After 11 years serving as President and CEO of The Welcoming Center, Peter Gonzales recently announced plans to transition out of his role by the end of June 2023.
Peter succeeded the organization’s founder Anne O’Callaghan in 2012 and has led The Welcoming Center through a period of transformative growth and change. When The Welcoming Center opened its doors in March 2003, its primary focus was connecting immigrants to jobs in the region. The organization has developed along with the city’s diverse immigrant population, which has increased by 50% over the past two decades.
The Welcoming Center has emerged as a national leader in innovative and wholistic approaches that promote inclusive economic growth through immigrant integration, in large part due to Peter’s passionate advocacy for the organization and his talent for networking widely with other professionals and organizations committed to the success and flourishing of immigrants and their communities.
Peter first joined The Welcoming Center as a volunteer board member in 2011 when he was managing an immigration law firm and serving on the Zoning Board of Adjustments for the City of Philadelphia. He led the organization through two strategic planning processes and a rebranding. Growing the budget by 70% since he first took the position, Peter focused on diversifying funding sources which now includes support from corporations, private foundations, and individual donors. This new funding provided the resources to implement several innovative new programs including TWC’s Immigrant Professionals Program, Immigrant Leadership Institute, Intercultural Wellness Program, and the worker’s cooperative franchise, Brightly Cleaning, launching this spring.
Over the past decade, Peter has amplified The Welcoming Center’s mission and impact by serving on several civic and philanthropic boards including the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia, The Merchants Fund, the Douty Foundation, Greenline Access Capital, and Philadelphia Works, Inc. He has also represented The Welcoming Center’s interests on President Obama’s Task Force for New Americans and on the transition teams of Governor Wolf and Mayor Kenney.
Today, The Welcoming Center breaks down the social, political, and economic barriers that immigrants face and models inclusive and equitable growth by engaging immigrants as key stakeholders, advisors, staff, and board members. “Peter’s warm and inclusive leadership, his unswerving commitment, and wide-ranging vision have brought us to this embarkation point, for Peter, to take off on new and exciting challenges and for The Welcoming Center, to strengthen and stabilize its operations while always pushing to improve and increase the impact of its programs,” said Hao-Li Loh, Chair of the Welcoming Center Board.
The Welcoming Center’s history, like the many immigrants who have walked through their doors, is a story of transformation and change. Through both Anne and Peter’s tenure, the organization has evolved from a traditional service provider and job placement center for immigrants to a trusted and beloved institution where immigrants build their skills, knowledge, and networks to improve the quality of their life while changing public systems and perceptions.
As The Welcoming Center prepares to celebrate its 20th Anniversary at its annual Solas Awards on April 24th, they will be recognizing the history of the organization by honoring its early founders while celebrating the many contributions and expanding impact immigrants are having in our region. They will also take this opportunity to honor Peter’s contributions.
As Peter prepares for his departure, the Board search committee and key stakeholders will be actively engaging with Criterion Search Group to identify The Welcoming Center’s next President and CEO.